Happiness, Clouds and the Ever-Evolving Spectrum of Emotion
April 2, 2014
Usually when you ask people what they want out of life, they're going to tell you they want to be happy. Who doesn't want to be happy? It's a desireable state of being: everything comes at ease, you do things with passion and intention, people around you gravitate towards your light. Then when happiness escapes us, as it inevitably does, we are distraught because we so desperately want to cling on to that easy state of being.
Yogis have great success in practicing non-attachment. When you first hear of the concept it's easy to think "Gosh, that's awfully nihilistic and drab." But bare with me: it's an absolute gem. When one is sad or going through hardship and tribulation a friend may comfort them by explaining to them that it is temporary. That whatever anxities, pain, or sadness that they feel is fleeting and will soon be replaced by another emotion. Well, why shouldn't the same occur when one is happy? Happiness as an objetive is setting is up to be disappointed. Like the less pleasant emotions it too is fleeting. And as we've all experienced: life is suffering. It simply is. Why do we aim for pleasure and hedonism? Because sometimes life is just plain hard! Our relationships are hard, our own self destruction is hard, our school is hard, our job is hard the world is hard. It's hard! So why do we try to escape this truth and cling to happiness? Because happiness is easy.
So this is where you conclude that I'm pretty well Nietzche in a post-modern female body with a laptop and a yoga blog. This is also where I share some magic with you.
In meditation we are often asked to think of thoughts and emotions as clouds. It easier to imagine with the unpleasant emotions. The unpleasant cloud approaches blocking out the light but like the nature of gaseous water it will eventually blow over or dissipate. And then bam: The light is back again. Imagine the same with pleasant emotions such as happiness. They too come, perhaps bearing spring showers and watering our internal vitality. But guess what: It's a cloud too. It too will disapate. And it too blocks the light. So what is the light? Our soul? Our innate goodness and pure spirit? The light is the light. If you practice a religion it is your god. If you are one who believes in the power of the universe it is energy. If science and nature are your religion it is the unifying forces that connect all of the natural world. That is our light. Our pure being. It may take on a different name or meaning to each of us individually but it all has the same purpose: to guide, to unify, to connect. When the sky is clear and no clouds pass by you are free of emotion, pleasant or unpleasant, and you are simply left to refelct on this pure being.
How scary is that? I was terrified of my pure being. I didn't understand my spirituality and sometimes still don't think I fully do. But I understand that something meaningful lies beyond my emotions.
What do we do when happiness alludes us? Or when it casually floats by? We don't cling. We instead acknowledge it and truly enjoy it in the moment. Really FEEL what it's like to be happy. Say, "I'm happy!" and get all giddy and dance and make a fool out of yourself. And while you're soaking it in say, "This too shall pass." Know that it will not necessarly be replaced with sadness or anger or anxiety but that when it passes you may again be able experience the clear skies of your inner being.
How do we prune our inner being to be something we want to experience? Well, we explore it. How do we explore it? I'll get back to you on that one.